Governor Bevin discusses pension reform in Owensboro

Governor Matt Bevin spent nearly two hours detailing his plans for pension reform at

Kentucky's governor didn't mince words on the state's retirement fund systems.


"So all of them are on that death spiral. We have to fix this, before we run out of money,” Bevin said.


Bevin said Kentucky has the worst funded pension system in America, with some systems estimated to be as low as 10 percent funded. Another much larger estimate, 80 billion dollars, is what Bevin says the state could owe in pension liability.


To begin chipping away, the governor is proposing major change.


"Because a failure to act will guarantee that all these folks, retired and working, will not get what has been promised to them. That will not be acceptable,” Bevin said.


His proposal would shift retirement plans for non-hazardous state employees from fixed benefit pensions to fixed contribution plans, more like a 401-k.


State employees would also be required to contribute three percent of their salaries toward a retirement health program, which Bevin said has drawn unwarranted criticism.


"Because we're not cutting anyone's pay. That’s one thing that has been misunderstood. Nothing in this bill proposes, nor has anyone ever proposed to cut anybody's pay at any level,” Bevin said.


Some Kentucky superintendents have come out against the proposed changes, saying the current system is working. Owensboro Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Nick Brake said he appreciates the work Bevin is doing, but is listening to his teachers' concerns.


"Some of those that are nearing retirement, that in are in their last three to five years, it does make some changes that I think would concern them, that they're fearful of,” Dr. Brake said.


Former Daviess County Superintendent Tom Shelton has called for superintendents around the state to cancel school, and send staff to protest in Frankfort should the governor hold a special session.


"It certainly is on the table, and it's mainly because we want to support teachers and their ability to voice their concern in Frankfort,” Brake said.


(This story was originally published on October 31, 2017.)

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